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Arizona is banning books

favicon Mexican WhiteBoy, by Matt de la Pena, is one of my students’ favorite books to read. Ninth grade boys, in particular, love the book.

It’s a story about a Mexican-American kid who wants to become his school’s star pitcher. His sister wants to go to college. It’s your typical American Dream.

But according to an article in today’s New York Times, you can’t teach the book in Arizona because it may promote racial resentment.

Here’s more background from columnist Michael Winerip:

In 2010, after several attempts, the Republican-controlled Legislature and the Republican governor passed a law prohibiting classes that advocate overthrowing the government, are designed for students of one ethnic group or advocate ethnic solidarity instead of treating pupils as individuals. The state wanted Tucson’s Mexican-American studies program disbanded.

In other words, to make sure to perpetuate the status quo, Arizona is banning books. Other books you can’t teach: Chicano! The History of the Mexican-American Civil Rights Movement and Pedagogy of the Oppressed.

There is some good news, however, to this story. Ana Verdugo, a student in Tucson, invited Mr. de la Pena to speak at the school. Instead of requiring his usual $1,000 speaking fee, Mr. de la Pena donated 240 copies of his books for independent reading, which is not banned.

He said, “If you are Mexican-American, embrace it. If the classes are offered, take them; if not, try to get them back.”

I applaud Ms. Verdugo and Mr. de la Pena for fighting against censorship. Reading should be open to everyone. No government should be able to censor the teaching of equality. favicon

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